It’s not very often that the Miami Marlins get a lot of media buzz (unless we’re talking about embarrassing plays), but today they’ve gotten a lot of attention. And they have the Red Sox to thank for that.
The Marlins beat writer for the Sun-Sentinel Juan C. Rodriguez posted an article titled “Red Sox cheat Roger Dean Stadium fans with substandard travel roster” before today’s spring training game between the two teams. Rodriguez reported that team executives were “outraged” that the Red Sox did not have any regular starters on their roster, especially considering this game featured “super premium” ticket pricing. Rodriguez stated:
Seven of the club’s starting nine position players Thursday do not have so much as one major league plate appearance. The only two with any big league time were outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (95 at-bats) and catcher Ryan Lavarnway (269 at-bats).
Even starting pitcher Allen Webster was a rookie in 2013, making eight appearances (seven starts) totaling 30 1/3 innings.
This is actually a fineable offense. MLB rules state that spring training rosters must have a minimum of four regulars from last year’s roster or players who have a “reasonable chance” of becoming regulars. However, teams often get away with not following this rule strictly.
But the Marlins can only be so mad. A team who only won 62 regular season games cannot reasonably complain that a better team wouldn’t send their best players 140 miles away in the middle of tornado warnings to a game that doesn’t count. Baseball has always had and will always have teams that don’t stand a chance against the best ones. And it won’t always be the Marlins. Not too long ago teams would have been sending “substandard rosters” to play the Tampa Bay Rays. And look at them now.
Perhaps the league should fine the Sox for blatantly breaking the rules, but for Rodriguez to say things such as, “At least the Marlins were considerate enough to wear their full regular season home whites to give the game a semi-major league feel,” doesn’t really make much sense. None of these games have much of a major league feel. That’s just the nature of spring training. This is the time that minor league players get a chance to show that they can play with the big guys.
Their argument may also be diminished by the result of the game. Although the game was called at 0-0 in the eighth inning due to rain, the Sox’s “substandard roster” still outhit the Marlins, whose roster featured seven players who will likely start on Opening Day, 7-2.